Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grey's Anatomy

Yesterday, at work, before I gave my patient her pain med – I checked her ID bracelet and asked her name and birthdate  - “4/4/91” That date, so casually spoken, shot, like an arrow in my heart.  That’s the day Emily was born. 

I expected a flood of grief and pain but there wasn’t any.  Instead, what I felt was curiousity for that lack.  I explored what it would be like to be the mother of a grown woman, 24 years old, who had just had a baby, and except for feeling a bit deprived from ever having that experience, I went on with my day.

Later that evening, on the loveseat with Ray, watching the TV show “Grey’s anatomy”,   Mark Sloan was taken off life support.

That’s when the grief came.  The pain of 8 years ago, of making that same decision, of being with Emily when we stopped her life support, I cried like my own heart was freshly broken.

Grief is like that. We don’t get to choose when the attack comes.  But we learn to stuff the pain until the time is right to let it out.  We learn how to fake that we are OK, until we really are OK.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yet will I praise Thee

 Gayle Wolff was the praise leader at the church I attended 20+ years ago.  She wrote a song then that still resonates in me.  It's called "Yet will I praise Thee"
 It's based from the scripture in Habakkuk 3:17 &18.
    Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vine
    Though the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food
    Though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there are no cattle in the stalls.
    Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will exult in the victorious God of my salvation.

There are days that I do everything I'm supposed to do and still the result doesn't make sense.  I don't get it, I don't see it, I don't understand it, I can't control it.  Those are the days that I sing Gayle's song.  I don't remember all the words, but I remember the message.
    " Yet will I praise Him, even in the night, even in the midst of the storm!"  

 The message is: FOCUS.  Focus, not on myself,  not on the government, not on my friends and family. Focus on the God of my salvation. Those are the days that I remind myself of the next verse: Habakkuk 3:19  Not only is it the next verse, it is the last verse in Habakkuk.  There is nothing more to say.
     The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, my invincible army.
     He makes me to walk (not stand still in terror, but to walk)
     To make spiritual progress in my troubles and suffering. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Satan is alive and well and after you

   I first got this message in Jan 2012,  after we were unjustly treated by a fellow church member.
It left us reeling.  We were so hurt.  We struggled with what to do next. What follows is the "gameplan" that we came up with.  I wish that I could tell you that everything has been resolved, that we are now living happily ever after, but that is not way it is.  The ripple effect of that situation continues.  What I can tell you is that God's Word is truth, and that God is faithful to complete the work He started in us.
Satan is not after the lost, he already has them. Satan is after us, the children of God, the church!
Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8

For our struggles is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) 
When the attack came, we were tempted to react in an ungodly manner. But that would only have played right into Satan’s plan.
     Do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27)

We wanted to react with:       The Word tells us:

Anger                         Have you any right to be angry? (Jonah 4:4)
Anxiety/worry           Be anxious about nothing. (Phil 4:6)
Fear                           For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power,love and self control
                                          ( 1Tim 1:7 )
Withdrawal                Let us not give up meeting together, let us encourage one another. 
                                           (Hebrews 10:25)
Hate                           Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
Retaliation                 Do not repay anyone evil with evil. Vengeance is mine says the Lord
                                           (Romans 12:17-19)
Judgment                    Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  (Matt 7:1)
Grudges                      Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and every form of
                                    malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.  
                                             (Ephesians 4:31,32)
Pride                         Pride goes before a destruction (Proverbs 16:18) 

Instead, we chose to remain Christlike.

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,

And after you have done everything, to stand.      

Stand firm, then with the belt of truth around your waist,

with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

and with your feet  fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation,

and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.   (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:7)

And always remember that it is: Not my ability, but God’s!   Not my battle, but the Lord’s

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Put on the full armor (AKA: I ran over a Rabbit)


   I ran over a rabbit.

   He ran from one side of the road to the other. 3 times he zigged and zagged   Just when I thought it was OK for me to drive on, he zigged right back under my wheels to his death.            
I thought about his crazy actions and realized that they were an instinctual way to avoid his enemy. But I was not a fox, and his usual strategies to escape his natural enemies failed him when he came head to head with my car.

   The "aha" moment: I focus on learning all about Jesus, but I try to avoid satan, who, all the while is roaming to and fro, seeking to devour me. 

    Avoidance is not a strategy that works.  Not only must I put on the full armor of God, I must become intimately acquainted with my enemy and his tactics so that I may be able to use the weapons of my warfare.

   Ephesians 6:  10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.…


Saturday, August 9, 2014


                                             CORNFIELD MAZE

Imagine walking through a cornfield Maze.  The cornstalks loom tall on either side of you.   You come to a junction, and wonder which direction to take.  It can be frightening.  You wonder if you can find your way out.

Imagine looking at the Maze from an airplane.  The designs are amazing, beautiful.

When we encounter difficulties in life, it’s like walking thru a Cornfield maze.  We feel surrounded by our problems. We can't find our way out. We wonder about decisions and wonder how the situation will ever end.

But God has a different perspective.  He sees the whole picture, and He knows the beginning from the end.   The Word tells us:

Isaiah 55: 8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher that your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

And God does not expect us to go through troubles by ourselves.  Matt 28:20  “I will be with you all the day”

Isaiah 30:21  "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, walk this way”     

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friday the 13th revisited

Seven years ago, the 13th of April fell on a Friday.  It was the day we buried Emily.   This year, the 13th falls on a Sunday.  (hmmm, there's something to think about: 7 is the number of the Lord and Sunday is the Lord's day, hmmm)

Spring is my favorite season.   I love it and I dread it. The memories: April 4th - Emily's 16th birthday,  in the ICU, amidst the ventilator, dialysis, and all those IVs.  April 9th -  the decision to discontinue life support and the day of her death.  April 13th - the funeral. The closing of the casket marked the end of my old self and the beginning of my new self. 

I have walked the dark path of grief.  I've been the "pinball" careening from one emotion to another.  I've been the faker, pasting on the "I'm OK" face while my heart is a stone. I have scolded myself -that "at least it's not..." and imagined all sorts of worse things that could have happened. I've told myself to suck it up, to put on my big girl panties and act like a grown up, to get over it.

And this year, 7 years out, I went to grief group.  And in front of strangers, I bared my soul. To them and to myself.  And this is what I learned.
   Life not an event, but a journey with new experiences
   Never say "At least it's not..."  how diminishing that phrase is
   Don't let anyone 'should' on you
   It's heartbreaking to God, too
   Tears are emotions turned liquid
   Grief is exhausting
   My story is part of that journey
   I have been through some **** (doo-doo), and I am entitled to act like it
   Being selfish is OK - take care of myself
   Balance in everything
   It is what it is
   Even though Emily is not here, she still has a place in my life.
   It's not a closed chapter in the book, it's a new chapter in my story
   Be gentle with others
   Be gentle with myself.
In the 5th meeting of the grief group, I looked around, and instead of seeing strangers, I saw friends.  People who have, without judgement and without advice, have listened, accepted my outpourings. 

But after barren winter,  spring comes and the earth is reborn.
One of my favorite songs is "here comes the sun" by the Beatles

Spring is here.  Memory: every morning, Emily used to pick daffodils to take to school to give to Cayley, her best friend.  Last week, I walked past the house that we used to live in.  It's empty now. I saw the daffodils that Emily used to pick.  I picked some and sent a picture to Cayley. And I dug up some of those daffodils and planted the bulbs at our new home.                                                     

Today is the last gathering of our grief group.  And I will bring Emily's daffodils bulbs to give to the group.  

There's a very different feeling inside me this spring.  I am grateful.  I'm free-er, lighter, happy.  Oh yes, I'm realistic, grief is still a part of me, but today I am happy.

So I will share my new favorite song, but it comes with a warning.  Don't click on this unless you want to "Be Happy"

Friday, March 28, 2014

the Epiphany, 7 years out.

   I've always been an 'uncomfortable in the limelight' kind of gal.  I'm more of a 'behind the camera' rather than 'in front of the camera' kind of person. And I'm a caregiver.  It's my nature, it's who I am.
   The night that Emily was born, there was a sugar packet on my supper tray (and in those days, there were inspirational quotes printed on the sugar packets). The quote of the day read: "If you don't get what you want, think about the things that you didn't want that you didn't get"
   That became ingrained in me.  Any time we encountered an obstacle, I would think "It could be worse."  I learned the phrase  "At least it's not...." and I would imagine a worse case scenario and make myself grateful that it wasn't my experience.  I looked at the cup half full instead of the cup half empty. 
   About 4 months after Emily died, I went to grief group and looked around to find others who were worse off than I was.  I met a couple whose son had died several years earlier and they were stuck in their grief.  I heard others trumping each other's experiences.  I certainly didn't want to become like that. So I piously downplayed my grief and brushed off offers for help.  
   As a nurse in the OB department,  I've helped many parents bring a new baby into their family, most of them alive and healthy.  I have also helped parents whose babies have died.  If I've heard the question "how do you deal with your grief so well?" once, I've heard it a hundred times.  I took pride in being strong.
  Last year, I became certified in perinatal loss care. During the study for this certification, I learned alot about loss and grief and came to understand myself  better.  This year, I am involved in setting up a Perinatal Hospice Program in our hospital.  I decided that I'd better make sure that I personally was in a solid place before I tried to counsel other parents in their grief journey. 
  I joined a 6-week grief group.  The epiphany started in session number two.   I accepted that it is OK, 7 years later,  for me to still grieve.  I can be "selfish" (that's the way I viewed it) and take care of myself, too.
   In the third week, the epiphany continued.  I have been through some SHIT! (sorry for that word, but I can't seem to find anything else that fits how I feel right now)  I wonder how I can be such a good caregiver to everyone else, but not to myself? Even the Word tell us to "Love thy neighbor AS, JUST LIKE, you love yourself." 
   Here's another thing I learned in group: BALANCE.  Everything in balance.  Certainly, I'm not going to run around having a pity party for myself, or go around being publically morose and draw attention to myself at inappropriate times.  But I am going to honor my own story.  I am going to acknowledge that even though there are other people out there with worse shit than mine,  I HAVE BEEN THROUGH SOME SHIT, some really bad shit.  And I am going to be kind to myself.